A local attorney who specializes in DUI cases was arrested earlier this month for his third alleged DUI offense in six years after he crashed into another vehicle, severely injuring the driver.
According to the California Highway Patrol, Henry Noto, 62, was driving northbound on Interstate 5 and was exiting at Highway 43 at around 10:35 p.m. when he failed to stop at a stop sign and struck a vehicle operated by a correctional officer who was heading northbound on Highway 43.
The collision pushed the correctional officer's vehicle into the southbound lanes and caused it to be hit by another vehicle heading south on Highway 43. The correctional officer, 26-year-old David Perez, sustained major injuries due to the crash and was taken to Kern Medical Center for treatment, the department said.
When CHP officers arrived at the scene, they noticed that Noto appeared to be under the influence and was arrested on suspicion of a felony DUI causing injury, the CHP said. He has since posted bond and has been released. No information on his blood-alcohol level was provided.
Noto and a female passenger, Heather Rush, 31, in his vehicle also sustained major injuries and were taken to the hospital. The driver of the third involved vehicle, 32-year-old Lucus Cotter, had moderate injuries but declined treatment, according to the CHP.
While Noto’s previous two DUI convictions were misdemeanors, this time he is facing a felony, which could mean prison time.
Noto's first DUI arrest happened in October 2013 and the second in October 2016, according to court documents.
In the first incident, police stopped Noto after he ran through a red signal light in the 1700 block of Truxtun Ave. He was found to be displaying symptoms of intoxication, including red eyes, slurred speech and unusual movement.
No information was provided on what his blood-alcohol level was, only that it was above the 0.08 legal limit. He was convicted in March 2014 after pleading no contest and sentenced to four days in jail, three years probation and a fine of nearly $2,000. He only served two days in jail based on good behavior, according to the Kern County Superior Court.
In the second incident, police arrested Noto after it was reported that a person was sleeping in the driver’s seat of a vehicle that was in the middle of the road in the 200 block of V St.
Court documents say the vehicle was running and still in drive, with Noto’s foot on the brake, when officers arrived.
After waking up Noto, police asked if he'd had anything to drink and Noto allegedly said he had had three cranberry and vodkas.
Noto was found to have a blood alcohol level of 0.35 percent, far exceeding the legal limit, according to the court documents. Noto was subsequently arrested for driving under the influence, and was convicted after pleading no contest and sentenced to 30 days in jail, according to the Superior Court. He was also fined around $2,000.